If you spent any time online over the past few weeks, you know that the final season of Game of Thrones took over the Internet. Thousands of posts were published about the fantasy HBO series, discussing who will perish and who will sit on the Iron Throne. Over the show’s eight-year run, it has become a worldwide entertainment phenomenon that has influenced industries from food and beverage to fashion. In this post, we’ve taken a look at who came out as the fan favourite, who was the biggest disappointment, and which brands are crowned winners in situational marketing campaigns.
In anticipation of the show’s final season and during its six-episode run, from January 1 to May 19, 2019, we monitored related content from social networks, the news media and messengers around the world. YouScan identified user-generated and branded content using our unique Autocategories feature. Our AI-powered image recognition tool, Visual Insights, helped detect branded assets and their use cases as they related to the show’s fans and cast members.
The overall post volume about Game of Thrones added up to 5,957,705, generated by 3,038,783 unique users. Each user published an average of 2 posts. There were 234,981,373 overall engagements on GoT content.
In terms of demographics, as expected, more men discussed GoT than women, 51.9% and 35.9% respectively. This is likely due to the show’s high fantasy genre, which historically has a male-dominant fanbase, as well as more situational marketing campaigns targeting the male audience.
Residents of the U.S., Russia and Brazil were the most active in discussions of this show. The map below shows how much countries around the world talked about GoT, where the activity level is indicated by colour intensity (the more discussions, the more intense the colour).
Twitter was the top social platform for GoT-related content, due to the network’s popularity as a real-time discussion platform of TV series around the world. Russia-based social network VK came in second by number of publications, due to the show’s popularity in Russian-speaking countries. Facebook ranked third and Instagram came in fourth by share of publication volume.
Let’s take a look at the overall sentiment distribution in GoT discussions.
Instagram content was the most neutral in sentiment, while Russian social network Odnoklassniki had the most diverse range of sentiment from positive to negative. There aren’t many explicitly negative conversations about Game of Thrones, with the exception of two incidents.
One of them doesn’t have anything to do with the show, but mentions a British TV personality with the same name as of one of the protagonists, Jon Snow.
Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow was criticized for saying that he’s “never seen so many white people in one place” at a Brexit protest.
The second incident came after the penultimate episode of the series, where Daenerys’s cruelty angered and disappointed fans who were ready to “Dracarys” all of Season 8. GoT fans created an online petition demanding a re-do of the entire season from HBO.
The biggest discussion trend during the latest season’s sixth-episode run was GoT’s female protagonists, with Arya Stark dominating the conversation.
Top GoT influencers
Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister on the show, was the top influencer in discussions of the show.
Top GoT-inspired fan pages and groups with the highest engagement
Brand activations and user-generated branded creatives
All brands identified in GoT-related discussion through YouScan’s social media monitoring system.
Share of voice for different brands is broken down by mentions and engagement in the graphs above.
These numbers vary: some have fewer mentions with very high engagement, which signals a higher earned media reach for those brands.
Many brands got higher visibility on social media thanks to fans and their user-generated content. For example, a Nike logo on the shirt of a fan that happened to sit next to Emilia Clarke was seen by millions of Clarke and GoT fans, but had nothing to do with any branded campaigns from the athletic apparel company.
Excited fans greet Emilia Clarke at a Texas basketball game
Thanks to organic distribution of this photo alone, Nike received 2,913 mentions and 79,362 engagements on social media from May 11 to May 12. Otherwise, the brand did not have any deliberate product placement or promo campaigns related to the show. The #nikerunclub wasn’t very active in GoT discussions, despite users creating very appealing organic content.
Not to mention very meme-able content in fan groups
Unlike its main competitor, Adidas put a lot of effort into their earned media reach.
The launch of a sneaker and apparel collection. Adidas Ultra Boost. On March 22, the brand launched 6 new products: sneakers with House Stark, House Lannister and House Targaryen designs (two pairs: one for the family, another for the Targaryen dragon), Nights Watch and White Walkers.
Celebrity endorsements. Lena Headey showed off her support for the Valencia soccer club in a major match by posting a photo with an Adidas shirt.
Stars of the show also had unintentional endorsements for the brand during the season run.
Kit Harington’s (Jon Snow) wife Rose Leslie (Ygritte) in an Adidas shirt.
Fan caption: Wildlings also wear Adidas <3 #Gameofthrones #играпрестолов #got
Kit Harington visited the Manchester United team ahead of the Game of Thrones premiere
A brand campaign with special edition apparel featuring thematic designs.
An errant Starbucks cup seen in one of the scenes in episode 4 of this season earned the coffee company 2.3 billion dollars in reach. As identified by YouScan’s analytics platform, from the air date of the episode “Starbucks” and “Game of Thrones” were mentioned together 16,745 times in various online sources, with just visual mentions adding up to 1,128 posts.
As well, the cup generated a lot of humorous content from show fans:
Apple didn’t have any branded content campaigns – but its users made up for that. Thanks to mirror selfies with iPhones and laptop photos, the Apple logo was one of the most frequently mentioned brands in GoT discussions.
Users create organic promo content for the brand.
Various iOS app developers also contributed to Apple’s visibility:
Jon Snow battled the white walkers. His next enemy? Spam callers
“A Lannister always pays his debts” campaign earned MasterCard a few social media mentions, most of which were visual (photo only, no accompanying text)
But the company earned most of its visibility during a red carpet photoshoot of Kit and Rose at the Olivier Awards ceremony.
User-generated photo and creative content:
McCombo campaign with 540+ options and various memes making fun of the Starbucks cup and product placement in the show:
Pepsi built an “iron throne” from straws and decided that everyone’s favorite soda will rule the Seven Kingdoms.
Visual context of mentions
Alcohol brands benefitted the most from situational marketing campaigns
Game of Thrones-inspired mentions of various alcohol brands added up to 4,009 posts with 237,238 engagements. Users frequently post photos of wine glasses, likely inspired by all the wine-drinking in the show, especially by Tyrion and Cersei Lannister.
Creative promo campaigns from alcohol brands stood out from the rest. Various Game of Thrones-related promotions took place in stores. Most of these campaigns were identified based on visual context of images on social media.
Filming locations for the show are overrun with tourists
Travel is mentioned in Game of Thrones discussions in 36,090 posts from 34,053 unique users, which collectively received 1,859,583 engagements (likes, shares and comments).
Spain is the most popular travel destination, with England and Croatia coming in second and third by the number of mentions, respectively.
On the Spanish island known to GoT fans as the birthplace of Daenerys Targaryen, Greenpeace created their own dragon to fight plastic pollution. Greenpeace is urging major consumer brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Danone, Nestle, Unilever, Mondelez Colgate, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson to stop using plastic in their products.
Professional models now often cosplay as GoT characters
Among fans, Game of Thrones themes sneak into the most intimate milestones, such as pregnancy photoshoots.
Celebrities also dress up as Game of Thrones characters.
Whatever the final verdict on the series finale, it is undeniable that this has been an exciting run for both fans and brands alike. From a low-budget niche TV series to the biggest television phenomenon ever, Game of Thrones left a legacy in many different fields. YouScan can be used to monitor massive online discussions, like the ones around Game of Thrones, on multiple online platforms in real-time. Want to see what YouScan can do for your own social media research? Request a demo today.